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Response to Sean Connaughty's,
Why/When is Pumping Bad

September 2019

Sean Connaughty, an activist in South Minneapolis, who is supporting Minneapolis Park Board changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course published a post on his Facebook page stating "Why/when is pumping bad". The following is SaveHiawatha18's response to the 10 items stated by Sean.

1.Sean says, "Pumping causes soil subsidence (sinking)."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: Any water movement, pumped or natural, can cause soil subsidence. The fact that water flows into this property means that the incoming water also brings in soil that can replace the soil that is lost. A good example is all of the soil deposited where Minnehaha Creek enters Lake Hiawatha which comes from a natural flow of water. Do you have any data that shows the net gain or loss of soil on this property? If not, as Barr Engineering said, there still is no scientific data available to determine if the property is sinking.
  • 2.Sean says, "Takes away flood storage capacity of the land, decreases water residence time in Lake Hiawatha. "

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: The first statement makes no sense. How does pumping water out of a flood plain take away flood storage capacity? Common sense says that it will increase flood storage capacity since the water is removed from the golf course so more water can be accommodated during a flood. This is exactly what the MCWD does at Grey's Bay dam; release water from Lake Minnetonka to increase flood storage capacity.
  • SaveHiawatha18 says: Regarding water residency time in Lake Hiawatha, this lake already has one of the lowest residency rates for water in the State of Minnesota because of the huge volumes of water sent into it from Minnehaha Creek and other sources. Doing anything to increase the residency rate would cause more water to pool on the property and surely flood properties outside of the park. The Park Board modeling for reduced pumping verified this when they found that groundwater levels would go up in the neighborhoods as far away as Powderhorn Lake once pumping is stopped at the lake.
  • 3.Sean says, "Exists in replacement of a natural wetland system and habitat."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: Please read EPA documents and understand what a natural wetland is versus an artificial wetland. The EPA says: "Artificial [constructed] wetlands are wetlands that have been built or extensively modified by humans, as opposed to natural wetlands which are existing wetlands that have had little or no modification by humans, such as filling, draining, or altering the flow patterns or physical properties of the wetland. " The original Rice Lake wetland included all of the low-lying park property on the west , north and east side of Lake Hiawatha, and the nearby, low-lying properties that now contain homes and businesses. Lake Hiawatha and the properties around it will never again be as they were in the late 1800's. Thus, this area will never be a natural wetland again despite all of the wishing, hoping and rhetoric of some people.
  • 4.Sean says, "Increases flood threat for downstream communities."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: This water is all going in that direction sooner or later, and the huge majority of the water comes from sources other than the golf course. If the golf course disappears, this water will still be there and pose the same threat. Pumping is just moving the water over the berm that protects the golf course to get to its ultimate destination, the Mississippi River. The water is just moving through the golf course; it is not created by the golf course.
  • 5.Sean says, "Requires constant upkeep and maintenance."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: Whether it is a golf course or a constructed wetland for pollution mitigation, which you seem to be hinting at in point 3, both will require upkeep and maintenance. The golf course pays for its upkeep and maintenance while a constructed wetland will require the taxpayers to pay huge sums for the upkeep and maintenance. On the other hand, the MPRB has stated that they are not doing a constructed wetland, so they are not doing any pollution mitigation. But, any upkeep for the resulting swamp will still be paid for by the taxpayers.
  • 6.Sean says, "Carbon footprint-uses lots of electricity."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: The current pumping costs between $10,000 and $15,000 per year. All of the turf grass negates, at least, some of this carbon footprint. Under the Park Board's plan, pumping will still be done in at least 2 locations in the neighborhoods, and more pumping will be done at Powderhorn Lake. So, there will still be pumping that will use a lot of electricity. But, it will be paid for by the City of Minneapolis, the MPRB at Powderhorn Lake, and the nearby homeowners and businesses to run their newly needed sump pumps.
  • 7.Sean says, "Disrupts and alters the water table, creates increased underground water movement which can destabilize foundations and infrastructure."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: The Park Board has stated that its plan to decrease pumping at the golf course will increase the water table in the neighborhoods, causing the need to pump water out of the neighborhoods. Putting the pumping in the neighborhoods will have a even more direct effect on the homes and businesses in the neighborhoods which would likely destabilize the foundations and infrastructure of the buildings around the golf course. We are seeing this right now in the Lake Nokomis neighborhood. And, the Park Board's plan to put pumps in the neighborhoods states that 46% of the water pumped from the neighborhoods will be from the "Lake and Creek". Right now, as far as we know, the water generally flows from the neighborhoods into the golf course. Under the Park Board's plan, 46% of the water pumped by the neighborhood pumps will come from the golf course, thus trying to reverse the direction of the flow of water. The EPA states that any system for water and pollution mitigation should be built to conform to the natural flows of water. The Park Board's plan, as far as we can determine, goes totally against this premise. Plus, this water from the neighborhoods will be sent back to the golf course property, only to be pulled back into the neighborhoods again and again.
  • 8.Sean says, "Transports runoff from the golf course directly to Lake Hiawatha."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: Whether the golf course is there or not, the runoff will be going into the lake. And, let us not forget that the water being pumped from the golf course is cleaner than any water coming into the lake from other sources. According to the Barr Engineering study, the pumping from the golf course contributes less than 1% of the total phosphorus to the lake. So, 99% of the phosphorus comes from all of the other sources of water.
  • 9.Sean says, "High potential for failure as seen in the last three floods since 2014."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: So, how does the pumping have a high potential for failure? First, there has been ONE major flood since 2014, and that was the 2014 flood. This flooding occurred because the MCWD lost control of the water coming down Minnehaha Creek when the level of Lake Minnetonka overtopped Gray's Bay dam. This flood had nothing to do with the pumps at Lake Hiawatha, and it had nothing to do with the golf course. There have been 3 major floods since the 1960's, and the golf course property recovered within a few weeks and served its function as a flood plain. And, in the 2014 flood, because the property was dry, it provided extra flood capacity when the MCWD lost control of the water flow at Gray's Bay dam. If there had been water on the golf course property in 2014 before the torrential rainfall, the surrounding houses would, most likely, have been flooded. The dry golf course was their saving grace. If we want better protection for the golf course and nearby properties, fix the low-lying sections of the berm, lessen the water coming into this small lake and/or fix the outbound creek to lower the lake level of Lake Hiawatha. The Park Board's reduced pumping plan does absolutely nothing to solve the flooding problem.
  • 10.Sean says, "Brings polluted, smelly, dead pond water into the Lake."

  • SaveHiawatha18 says: Again, according to Barr Engineering, the water being pumped into Lake Hiawatha from the pond system on Hiawatha golf course is the cleanest water coming into the lake. And, the use of these ponds for processing storm water saves Minneapolis taxpayers money by accepting over 60 million gallons of stormwater that would otherwise require a huge expediture to remove it from the neighborhoods by piping it somewhere else .